Four moves to be made after the roster freeze

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Now that the holiday roster freeze is over with, teams are free to go about their business and start making those mid-season tweaks to help them stay in the playoff hunt. Some teams have obvious issues, others not so much but there are a handful of moves that could be near the top of the list.

Ales Hemsky’s last days in Edmonton?

Ales Hemsky has been quarreling with coach Tom Renney of late with Renney even going so far as to complain about what kind of stick Hemsky is using. Hemsky’s production is a bit off but there’s no doubt he’s a solid scorer. Teams are asking about Hemsky, but the Oilers might not be selling yet. If Hemsky is just about done in Edmonton they should move him before he winds up hurt again.

Philly wants a defenseman

With no Chris Pronger to bash guys around for the rest of the season and playoffs, the Flyers will need some help on the blue line, but who? Tim Gleason has been talked about as a possibility and Kyle Quincey very well might be available in Colorado. Gleason fits the Pronger role a bit easier but Quincey provides solid all-around play at a young age. Paul Holmgren won’t make a panic move, but they’ll need a little something extra without Pronger.

Tampa Bay needs a lot of help

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could use some help both on the blue line and in goal. With injuries last night to Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer, their defensive depth is taking a beating. Making matters worse is that neither Mathieu Garon nor Dwayne Roloson can stop pucks well enough for them to win. Yzerman won’t make a rash decision, but getting a long term answer in goal could go a long way to stopping the bleeding in Tampa. Coughing up big for Cory Schneider or Jonathan Bernier would be the obvious ways to do that.

Big shakeup in Washington?

Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Dale Hunter hasn’t done much to fix things in Washington which leads us to wonder if a big trade here might be the medicine the Caps need to turn things around. Would moving Alexander Semin help out? Perhaps sending Mike Knuble to a contender in need of help? GM George McPhee might have to take some long looks at the guys on his roster to figure out who should stay and who should go.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.